CAMP LEJEUNE — Three Marines based at Camp Lejeune were killed in Afghanistan on Friday, making June the worst month so far this year for U.S. troops still fighting in the country.
Reports indicate that a roadside bomb killed the Marines and a working dog Friday in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. The Department of Defense identified the men as Staff Sgt. David H. Stewart, 34, of Stafford, Va.; Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Garabrant, 19, of Peterborough, N.H.; and Lance Cpl. Adam R. Wolff, 25, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. All three were members of the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune and had been in Afghanistan since this spring.
Their deaths brought the total number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan in June to 11. Nine of those were Americans. Five were killed in a suspected friendly-fire incident in Zabul province on June 5 when a coalition jet, called in to help ward off a Taliban attack, mistakenly bombed a security operation.
So far this year, at least 31 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan, and at least 2,332 have died there since 2001.
The U.S. now has about 32,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from 100,000 at the peak of the war. President Barack Obama announced in late May that by the end of this year, the U.S. would end its combat mission there and remove all but 9,800 troops. Those troops would remain only to support Afghan forces’ efforts to maintain security, and to support counter-terrorism operations.
By 2016, nearly all those troops also would be removed, Obama said.
The N.C. National Guard announced Monday that about 100 members of its 145th Airlift Wing, based in Charlotte, will begin deploying to Afghanistan on Wednesday. They will be gone for about four months.
The 145th is equipped with C-130 Hercules, the prime transport for air-dropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.
The Defense Department did not give details of Friday’s attack. The Taliban is engaged in a summer offensive ahead of the planned withdrawal of foreign troops.
A statement from Camp Lejeune said Stewart was a platoon sergeant who joined the Marine Corps in June 2004. He had deployed to Iraq three times between 2004 and 2007, and was on his second deployment to Afghanistan. His awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, among others.
Garabrant was a combat engineer who joined the Marine Corps in March 2013. He deployed to Afghanistan in March 2014. His awards include the National Defense Service medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Wolff was a combat engineer who joined the Marine Corps in December 2012. His awards include the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.